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Some advice.........what would you do?
Old 08-11-2013, 02:23 PM   #1
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Some advice.........what would you do?

Well, not sure how to really start this string, so I apologize in advance for my "ramblings". Some background, DW and I are mid-50's, advanced degrees and corresponding experience, 35+ years working in gov and megaCorp jobs. It's been a very, very long haul for us. We're close (less than 2 years) to 100% FIRE depending on our tolerance to view % risk of success/failure.
Our work lives are pure hell. Her boss is a insane, egomaniac workaholic and even as stable as she has been over the years, it's really, really affecting her mental and physical health. Leaving her job now would also really impact a gov DB pension for us; but, she might not have a choice due to health concerns. If possible, my job may be even worse. Bought by a megaCorp last year and it's been straight downhill ever since then, I mean a sled ride on the Matterhorn. Just this week, they cut employee benefits (sick, vacation, 401k matching, bonus's, you name it) for the 4th time in less than a year, mine included. RIF's and reductions without rhyme nor reason. Employee benefits are viewed as costs and to be pared/reduced/eliminated at will. It's a complete cultural degradation from the previous organization. In fact, one of our best managers left last month with the following statement, " I came to this company 15 years ago for the employee culture and I'm leaving this company after one very painful year for the very same reason". Upper management didn't even recognize his leaving the organization. This guy was talented, will-liked and spectacularly gifted and their behavior has been unbelievable, once again. And as you can imagine, employee morale is now less than zero. If the economy was better, we would need to install a turnstile at the front door. My department lost 2 people last week; in my 12 previous years, losing 2 people per year would be considered a unusual situation. And better yet, being in middle management, I've been required to tow the company line of "cost cutting" while record profits and bonuses for senior management are being handed out. Guess what, the VP's are showing up in a couple of weeks to figure out what's wrong and help "motivate" our middle management. Looking forward to that. They are "forcing us" to put on the "happy face" that nothing is wrong, "we value our employees" and other such nonsense. It's not true; whatsoever and everyone including my boss is well aware of it. Unfortunately, I've never been able to do that; that is, lie very well. My daddy whooped my ass, if I did that. Fair is fair and the corporate greed is completely out of control here. Through the years, my management methods have been to "speak softly, tell the truth always, work hard to value and trust my direct reports and not micro-manage, overload or overly complicate their work. This is NOT the new megaCorps methods. So I'm at the crossroads as well.
Well, after all that background, what do the DW and I do? Take the risk and tell them to shove their jobs and maybe work part-time, if we can find it? Or, hang tough, pretend we're in prison and do the two years time without chance of parole? Unfortunately, for one reason or another I think the 2nd option is probably not probable. We're both on the edge, fuses lit have a large short term funds and we are probably just one confrontation away from being discharged.
So, any advice you seasoned veterans of FIRE can give us? AIs there any way to negotiate a package or tips you can give me? Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:51 PM   #2
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I have no real experience of corporate life so I cannot comment, but I wish you and DW the best in whatever path you end up taking.

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Old 08-11-2013, 08:05 PM   #3
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You have to resolve your inner conflict. You are not going to be successful in your position if you have deep rooted opposition to the direction management is taking. If I were you, I would sincerely try to understand their motivations and get in line with the company objectives to help them reach their goals. If you can't do that, then you are going to be condemned to years of misery or else get fired or quit.

Having no experience with government employment, I have no comments on your wire's situation. Right or wrong, I have always heard it is difficult to fire a government employee.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:07 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear that things are so bad for both you and your wife at work. Only you and your wife can decide how much more punishment you can take, but the bottom line is that if work is truly impacting the health of either one of you in a negative way, then it's time for a change. You can always work part-time later (after a recovery period) if you feel the need to bolster your finances a bit more. Finances are important, but everything is secondary to maintaining your health.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:10 PM   #5
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It sounds like quitting at this point would have a spectacularly bad impact on your ER plans. Also, unless your wife is in an unusual government job, it would be very hard to get rid of her (against her will) in less than 2 years even if they started the documentation process today. So, unless she actually resigns or commits a crime, she will probably be able to stay--if she can stand it.

It's probably different for you.

"The grass is always greener . . ." and you don't really know what frying pan you'll be flipping into if you (or she) move to a different job. It will probably be useful to stop comparing the "now" to the "what was". That's history. What's important is what things would be like if you had to work somewhere else. Management is tightening up in lots of places, so you wouldn't be assured that things would be better. And at least you know your co-workers and the details of the job where you are at--starting over somewhere else can be full of its own stresses.

If you decide you just can't take it for 24 more months, I'd recommend you get something else lined up before you jump. It's likely that word is out about the new management and corporate culture, so other employers in your industry will understand why you are leaving.

Though I doubt this will be the consensus here, I'd lean toward buckling down and grinding it out for 24 months. Be sure to do what you can to reduce the stress--eat out, take get-away weekend vacations, make a game of the "dumbest thing I saw at work today" stories, and try to get through it. It stinks, it turns out that you already had all the fun you're going to have at work, but in the grand scheme of things, and for the rewards it will bring and the sacrifices you already made to get where you are, it may be worth it. Nasty, unfulfilling work has been the lot of mankind for most of our existence. Heck, many of our parents had no expectation that their work would be anything less than a daily grind. The end is in sight, if you can see it through it may be worth finishing the marathon rather than entering a different event at this point.

Best of luck to you both.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:13 PM   #6
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Easy for me to say, but I bet that if you see yourself 2 years from FIRE, then with some modifications you may already be there. That is, if you or DW just cannot take the stress maybe you can, in fact, leave now. You can always seek out some part-time work to supplement your income.
Or, maybe split the difference. Can you tough it out ONE more year and then give them the heave-ho?
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:31 PM   #7
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It is hard to say. About 3 years ago I was under tremendous stress in my work and I felt I simply couldn't tolerate the more than full-time work that I was doing. And, I liked most of the people I worked with... In our case, DH and I talked about it and we decided to make our retirement expenses meet our budget. That is, we would have had more had DH not retired when he did and I semi-retired when I did (I still work from home extremely part-time). But, we realized that with some not really painful adjustments we could retire sooner than we originally planned.

As for your situation:

I don't know how important to your pension DW's pension is and how much the reduction would be if she left early. If very important and the reduction is severe, then I would be inclined if I was here to try to gut it out. On the other hand, if the pension is a nice to have and not all that essential then I might not try to hard.

For you - If I was you I would start looking for another job now. Maybe you find nothing and then you have to decide whether to quit. But, if you are FI or close to FI then you are free to take a more congenial job even if it is less pay. Again, if you can adjust your retirement spending to meet the assets you have available then maybe you decide to retire sooner than the 2 years if it gets intolerable.
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:38 PM   #8
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I'm thinking cut spending and FIRE now or leave your current jobs and either try for something similar or downgrade to half time or a "second career". Sounds like keeping both current jobs might not even be possible anyway. I think you'd feel tons better without them.
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jime444 View Post
Just this week, they cut employee benefits (sick, vacation, 401k matching, bonus's, you name it) for the 4th time in less than a year, mine included. RIF's and reductions without rhyme nor reason. Employee benefits are viewed as costs and to be pared/reduced/eliminated at will.
Sorry for your situation but this has been happening for years across America. At my megacorp my pay was cut 40%, pension frozen (loss of $2K/mth for life) and company wide furloughs. I put up with it for four more years then took early retirement.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:31 AM   #10
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The jobs/culture are not going to change...you will have to have the internal change to either go along with it or leave. I have been where you are and left...it was not worth my life or my health. Is there any way you can adjust numbers and retire now? It would be a lot better and you can always pick up a part time gig or contract work.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:32 AM   #11
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Can DW buy air time for her pension?
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:57 AM   #12
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As for your situation:

I don't know how important to your pension DW's pension is and how much the reduction would be if she left early. If very important and the reduction is severe, then I would be inclined if I was here to try to gut it out. On the other hand, if the pension is a nice to have and not all that essential then I might not try to hard.

For you - If I was you I would start looking for another job now. Maybe you find nothing and then you have to decide whether to quit. But, if you are FI or close to FI then you are free to take a more congenial job even if it is less pay. Again, if you can adjust your retirement spending to meet the assets you have available then maybe you decide to retire sooner than the 2 years if it gets intolerable.
Given this information, and a full 60 seconds to dwell on it, this is probably what I'd do too. It sounds like you are both hard working and have pride in your jobs and care about what happens, but that doesn't work on a one-way street.

If I was DW I would find some way to distract myself from this boss if I couldn't get out from under that person. As bad as it sounds, retiring on the job for the last 2 years (meaning, not caring and doing minimal work and ignoring the boss) is an option. Maybe it's not an option she wants to take, but I wouldn't want to be bullied out of retirement benefits, nor would I let it take down my health.

For you, it doesn't sound like there is as much of a financial burden if you left for another job. Sounds like you are in a middle management position? That would make it tougher for you to be basically idle for 2 years, since you have so many under you, although I've seen a lot of middle managers who seemed to look busy but not really accomplish anything. I'd probably be very frank with the VPs about why you think so many people are leaving, and provide some input on a plan and see they actually do something about it. If not, find your way out the door and in the exit interview remind them of what you had said before.
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:55 AM   #13
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Though I doubt this will be the consensus here, I'd lean toward buckling down and grinding it out for 24 months.
+1

The grass may seem greener elsewhere, but honestly job is a job is a job. You are getting so close to retirement that I would advise to just hang on to what you've got for the couple of years required. There are plenty who have dealt with far, far worse work situations and managed to just put the nose to the grindstone for a couple of years in order to retire.

I would amplify on this and explain why my original username was "Want2Retire", but I think you get the picture.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:15 PM   #14
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Does your wife's gov't job include the security we all hear about? Could she mail it in the last couple years, and/or work to her job description and generally just tick off the boss?

Also, check your pension language, sometimes a year of "service" is defined as so many hours in a given calendar (or fiscal year), often the equivalent of as little as six months work.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:16 PM   #15
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I can only tell you what I'd do. I'd be looking for an exit. I'd be looking for another job, cutting my expenses so that I could shrink that 2 year horizon, I'd be willing to accept a job with half the pay -- basically, I'd be doing anything I could to find a way out. No way would I spend two full years in a work environment that made me as miserable as you sound.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:56 PM   #16
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DH worked at a megacorp like the one you describe. Profitable companies, executives with multi-million dollar pay packages and workers that used to be called white collar getting pay cuts and sweatshop hours seem to be a not uncommon trend among a lot of the people we know right now.

We cut our expenses, took our pensions early and now we both work at a low stress, home business.

I don't know the right decision for you, but DH is very sorry he didn't do that years ago. We had the home businesses in place while he still had a regular job, though, so that was an established income stream.

We really got into the whole simple / sustainable living movement and for us that has saved a lot off our annual expenses and we haven't even downsized yet. We lowered our expenses on things we really didn't miss like cutting our energy bills in half just by doing inexpensive action items from books from the library and cutting out fast food, since now we have time to make healthy food from scratch.

We went to a wake yesterday and that confirmed for me we made the right decision to not put off the day when we could have a more laid back lifestyle.

Good luck with your decisions.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:53 PM   #17
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I would start preparing a plan "B". I have been down this road before and there was no happy ending for myself or my long time coworkers. I hung in until the bitter end by which time all co workers were gone and many of their new replacements were also gone.

I am no familiar with government work so I will not comment on your DW's job.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:24 PM   #18
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Though I doubt this will be the consensus here, I'd lean toward buckling down and grinding it out for 24 months. Be sure to do what you can to reduce the stress--eat out, take get-away weekend vacations, make a game of the "dumbest thing I saw at work today" stories, and try to get through it.

....

Best of luck to you both.
Another +1 on this.

I would rather suck it up for two years than put my retirement plans at risk.

Do what you can to work on your physical, social and emotional health - exercise, eat, have some interests, get out of the house when you can (even if its only a twenty minute walk after dinner) etc. A few little things here and there can make a big difference to stress levels.

By all means look for something else while you are marking time.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:20 AM   #19
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I'm part of the tough it out to stay on course to ER crowd. Someone above mentioned the dumbest things I saw at work today game. I love that game. I would say only leave if you can't get the stress under control and really believe your health will be seriously impacted.

Similar experience with my company. 10 years of layoffs to offshore jobs, dramatically heavier workload because of that, benefits being cut, etc. However, I managed to find comfort in the fact that I no longer needed the job. Just the knowledge that I could walk anytime, dramatically improved my outlook and stress levels. I used to work 60-70 hour weeks, now I work 40-45. If they want more, well, they can't have it. I do my job and I do it fairly well. But I am no longer willing to die for the company. For many years a decade ago we actually had several people a year leave our campus for the last time in an ambulance due to a heart attack. Most lived, but it was their last working day. I worked with a 30 year old that died during the Y2K effort due to a heart attack. Stress really does kill.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:27 AM   #20
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Though I doubt this will be the consensus here, I'd lean toward buckling down and grinding it out for 24 months. Be sure to do what you can to reduce the stress--eat out, take get-away weekend vacations, make a game of the "dumbest thing I saw at work today" stories, and try to get through it. It stinks, it turns out that you already had all the fun you're going to have at work, but in the grand scheme of things, and for the rewards it will bring and the sacrifices you already made to get where you are, it may be worth it. Nasty, unfulfilling work has been the lot of mankind for most of our existence. Heck, many of our parents had no expectation that their work would be anything less than a daily grind. The end is in sight, if you can see it through it may be worth finishing the marathon rather than entering a different event at this point.

Best of luck to you both.
Another vote here. The pain and bad memory will fade quickly and this is the path that takes you to your goals of financial independence and early retirement.
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